A Guide to Halloween Safety for Your Dog or Cat

Reviewed by: David Dilmore, DVM
Reviewed on: October 17, 2014

Halloween is a fun day for families, but it can be a stressful or even dangerous day for pets. Luckily, by following a few guidelines for dog safety and cat safety, you can make the experience enjoyable and safe for dogs and cats.

Watch this video for an overview of the steps you can take on Halloween day and night to keep your dog or cat out of harm’s way, and review the detailed pet Halloween safety tips below.

Choose Pet Costumes Wisely

If your pet enjoys being dressed up, there are some safety tips to consider. Be sure the costume isn't constricting, unsafe or annoying, as this can add stress to your dog or cat.

For your pet’s safety, be wary of costumes that use rubber bands to keep them in place because your pet could chew them off and swallow them, potentially creating a choking hazard or causing an intestinal injury. The bands can also become embedded into your pet's flesh, causing pain or discomfort. Make sure the costume doesn’t obstruct your pet's vision. Even the gentlest pets can get snappy when they can't see.

Keep Pets Away from the Front Door

Keep your pet in a separate room during trick-or-treat hours. The continuous opening and closing of the door, ringing of doorbells, and general noise associated with groups of people approaching the house can be stressful or confusing to pets. Dogs may feel the need to protect their home and humans, and may bite your bizarre-looking visitors. Your pet may also become frightened and dart through the open door.

Keep Your Pet Inside

There is no safer place for you dog or cat than inside the home. There are plenty of stories of vicious pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen or even killed pets that were left in their yards or allowed to roam outside on Halloween.

Be Careful with Candles and Lit Pumpkins

Pets are attracted to bright lights in a darkened room. Candles can be knocked over easily, spilling hot wax on furniture and carpet and potentially causing a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting badly burned.

Do Not Leave Your Pet in the Car While the Kids Go Trick-or-Treating

Pets may find it very frightening to sit in a dark car while scary creatures of every size and shape walk by. Furthermore, your normally friendly pet can become aggressive and protective and lash out at a friendly ghost or witch. For the safety of your pets, leave them at home, inside where they are safe.

Do Not Give Your Pet Candy

An everyday rule of dog safety and cat safety is to not feed them people food – especially candy on Halloween. Chocolate contains theobromine, a substance that can be poisonous to your pet. Dark, semi-sweet or baker's chocolate can be deadly for dogs if ingested. Sticks on caramel apples can be swallowed and cause choking or damage to internal organs. Candy can upset the stomach, resulting in diarrhea or vomiting. Packaging can cause choking or intestinal blockage. Foil wrappers can become as dangerous as razors when swallowed. In short, be sure to keep all of these tempting treats away from your pets.

Learn More

If you have questions about pet safety, contact your local Banfield Pet Hospital. For more seasonal safety information for dogs and cats, browse the articles below or visit our pet safety tips section.